This time last year Rugby’s season was over.
The men in sky blue had failed to make the McDonald’s Megahit finals and were approaching the last day of the RSL-Whitney Cup regular season knowing they were no chance of finishing in the top three.
Fast forward to now and things couldn’t more different.
Rugby, under the Liberty OneSteelers moniker, will play in the McDonald’s Megahit grand final at No. 1 on Friday night while they sit just 10 wickets away from advancing straight to the Whitney Cup decider.
“It’s been a tough couple of years in terms of Saturday cricket but it goes in circles and every side has some lean years,” Rugby captain Nathan Munro said.
“To be in this position, I really wasn’t expecting it at the start of the season but from now moving forward I think we’ve got the side to win both.
“It’s great for us to be in this position.”
Rugby lost just once during the Megahit regular season, a 13 run defeat at the hands of the Castlereagh Hornets.
But Munro’s men got their revenge in last week’s semi-final, thrashing the Hornets 113 runs and now the minor premiership-winning Bob Berry Blasters await in the decider.
“We’ve played a very high standard of cricket the last two or three night games and I can’t see a reason why we wouldn’t be at that standard again on Friday,” Munro said, before speaking about the Blasters.
“Their gameplan doesn’t change too much no matter the format. They’ve got the spinners who bowl through the middle overs and then they’ve got deep batting depth.
“But anyone can beat anyone in Twenty20 cricket so we’ve got to be sure to execute our plans.”
The biggest positive for Munro and Rugby heading into the match is the amount of depth in his side.
All-rounder Ben Patterson has stolen the headlines after taking a five-wicket haul and scoring a blistering century in his past two Megahit games respectively but Munro pointed to the likes of Aidan Bennewith, Jacob Hill and Jordan Moran as others who have contributed while Ben Taylor, Jacob Bruce and the skipper himself are more than capable of making a major influence on a match.
“You look back on our results and it’s been different people stepping up, except for ‘Patto’ in the last couple of games,” Munro said, adding his side needs a “beg effort” in the field in the final.
Friday night marks the first Twenty20 meeting between these two sides after the regular season match between the pair was washed out.
For the Bob Berry Blasters, just one player is in the top 10 run-scorers in this season’s Megahit.
Also, only one Blasters player is in the top 10 wicket-takers.
Both are Darrel Williams.
The English leg-spinning all-rounder has been a massive hit across all forms in Dubbo this season and he will again be vital to his side’s hopes of grand final glory.
Williams has passed 50 twice during the regular season while he has only gone wicketless once.
So often he has been the anchor his side built their innings around, especially given the fact the likes of Greg Buckley, Wes Giddings and Jason Ryan have failed to fully fire in the Twenty20 competition.
Despite that, he’s also shown an ability to lift the run rate and that was proven last match when he made 67 from 49 balls after helping his side recover from 2/12.
His work with fellow spinners Buckley and Giddings is also important.
Friday night’s final starts at 6.30pm.